Mary Magdalene and Jesus: A New View
There are few topics in history that intrigue us more than the life and times of Jesus. However, the historian's challenge has always been the chore of separating fact from fiction and myth from reality. After all, when it comes to the Gospels, we must be informed knowing that the Church of Rome rejected a number of gospels, choosing only the one's that fit snugly into their own political/religious views or would most easily bend to the new Christian doctrines and dogma.
There is some dispute about when the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were written but we are safe to say none were written until at least 50 years after the death of Jesus except for John which came a few decades later. Mark of course never knew Jesus and was instead a disciple of Peter as Luke was a follower of Paul. The point is that we have to seek beyond the gospels and other religious literature if we are to have a chance at uncovering the historical truth.
The Romans, for example, kept exquisite records. Yet, there is none that mentions Jesus' execution. There is some historic data that leads back to John the Baptist, however. And so, I for one believe that Jesus was probably crucified but only because he was a rebellious Kingdom of God rebel who most likely stood against Roman Imperialism and the Jewish elite who "played ball" with the Roman authority to line their own pockets. The gap between rich and poor was extremely wide in the times of Jesus and. for the poor, Rome's oppression and high taxation were all but unbearable. As we all know, Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist and John the Baptist
Women were extremely oppressed during Jesus' times. For one thing, the Jews had long before been Hellenized so the devaluation of female was common admidst both cultures. Indeed, Reay Tannahill reports that: : The Athenian's view of a good wife was an almost exact echo of the Hebrew's. She was to be chaste and sober minded. competent at spinning, weaving, and tailoring, able to allocate suitable tasks to the servants, to be economical with her husband's money and property, to bear children, and to govern the household wisely and virtuously. If it was necessary to beget an heir in a hurry, she was expected to have intercourse with her husband 'at least three times a month' until the matter was put right."
What is little known is that the early Jews believed that God had a wife by the name of Asherah. In fact, Asherah was worshiped by the Canaanites as being the Mother Goddess, the creator of all living things. Soon enough this Goddess was deleted from the local mythology and Yahweh (also known as Jehovah) was deemed the one and only God; the God of Abraham. As a quick aside, this is the same God that Jews, Christians and Muslims trace their heritages back to.
When the Jews hailed Yahweh the one and only God and themselves as "the chosen people," it was believed that this one, almighty power
In any case, women were deemed inferior to men during the time of Jesus and for a man to speak publicly to a woman was a taboo. Jesus not only spoke publicly to women but invited them into his following. Mary Magdalene was admidst them.
What this article sets out to do is to reveal what the (real) relationship was between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Aspects of Mary and Jesus' World
We need to understand that by the time of Jesus and Mary the Goddess had already been eliminated from Hebrew worship. Nevertheless, Asherah had, as I mentioned earlier, been called the Mother of Heaven. She was deemed the wife of El, the supreme male deity of those ancient times. Indeed, their daughter was named Anath (The Queen of Heaven) and their son, called He was deemed to be the King of Heaven. Later El and He were to be merged into one God called *Jehovah. It would not be until at least 50 years after the Hebrews were held captive in Babylon that the worship of the One God image emerged. For those who are interested the Jews in Babylon had two ethnic backgrounds: Israel and **Judah. The two tribes however would merge in their quest to become Jehovah's chosen People.
It is important to understand the Hebrew rejection of the Goddess and the envolvement of the patriarchal views denying women equality to grasp daily life in Jesus' time. It is interesting in that all the data following the life of Jesus tells us that he welcomed women into his following as readily as men, giving them mutual respect. Indeed, it is said that he loved Mary Magdalene more than any of his disciples. We will be talk more about this later.
As an aside, the Roman Church, called Christianity, played down the role of women in Jesus' following attempting to give the impression that there were only twelve apostles. Interesting enough, this more closely resembles the Pagan myths of Dionysus for the Greeks and Osiris and Iris for the Egyptians and Mirtha for the Persians. All of which by the way were born of***virgin mothers, lived difficult lives, died and descended into heaven. (The new church of Rome obviously went out of its way to convert Pagans into joining their fold). Anyway, in the 4th century A.D. the Church adopted Augustine's interpretation of Genesis that blamed Eve for the entire fall of man and the loss of Eden.
As a result women were devalued and second rated. In fact, their were cults that preached men were evil from the waste down but women were evil from head to foot.
Sexism prevailed for the ancient Hebrew during Mary and Jesus' time and has persisted in the Catholic Church even into our own times with Mormonism, a Protestant sect, being absolutely patriarchcal. In any case, it is impossible to gather much information at all about Jesus' relationship with women much less Mary Magdalene since the gospels are apparently written to support the Roman Church's doctrines and dogma. Thus Mary Magdalene is said to have been a prostitute that Jesus was kind to and no doubt saved. As the reader will soon enough see, this was not the case. In any case, women were subject to male rule and subservient to their husbands and...often to their own sons.
In regard to Jesus' openness to women he is also known to speak to a Samaritan lady in the Samaritan town of Sychar
Jesus was Jewish of course, a fact that is played down by Christian historians but I make this point because it is important to understand that Jesus was a protester against Roman Rule in his land and against Jewish hypocrisies by many of the temple officials and priests that bowed to that rule and profited from doing so. And so Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand.
I have heard historians twist this around to mean that Jesus thought the end of the world was coming in his time but what he meant was that the Kingdom was already within us. He said, "The Kingdom of God is not something people will be able to see and point to. Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."
This message was saying that God's Kingdom was within all of us, females as well as males. And, to possess the Kingdom was to possess God. Thus, he would also say, "The father and I are one." This apparent spirituality was corrupted by the later Catholic Church that would interpret this (and teach this) as meaning Jesus was God and God Jesus. Jesus, however, always referred to himself as the son of man. Most obviously the son of god label would have arisen during the early years of the Roman Church, when they were combining Pagan mysticism into their converting literature. The idea of a suffering son of god, born of a virgin would have easily fit into Roman Pagan myths and appealed to the common Roman mind.
It simply seems apparent that Mary or any of Jesus' other followers believed that Jesus was God manifested in a human body. He was, instead, their charismatic teacher and leader; a wise man and sage but also he was seditious believing that only the Jews that defied Roman rule were true followers of Judaism. Indeed, he named the hypocritical Jews and their "friendly" connection to the Roman oppressors, "a breed of vipers." Not all Jews were hypocritical, however, and a great many joined sects not to abandon Judaism but to reinstate Judaism in its independence; to obey God's will and not the Roman's.
Jesus, however, was defiant also against many of the laws laid down in God's name such as not working on the Sabbath. Indeed, he practiced his healing on that day and, as tradition tells us, came eating and drinking. Indeed, Luke tells us that the religious leaders of the times accuse Jesus as being a winebibber who associated with tax collectors and sinners. One clearly sees the human side to this but also the wisdom in it. Jesus was constantly recruiting followers and in order to do this, he was nothing at all like the pompous religious elite who wore their holiness on their sleeve or the arrogant Romans but became one with the people, especially the poor.
Mary Magdalene would have witness all this and admired it. After all, Jesus' teachings were daringly against the bureaucracies of his times; deeply spiritual and yet strongly political. He would be a man simply worthy of a woman's love and, as we shall see, Mary Magdalene would soon enough become that woman.
*Jehovah is an Anglicized transliteration of Yahweh.
**Judah is the tribe that Jesus' descendants belonged.
***In antiquity the term "virgin" simply meant a young woman. The Hebrew word for a physical "virgin" was bethulah. Mary, Jesus' mother, was quite young when she began having children, giving birth to both boys and girls.
Marriage and other Politics
At this juncture we have to clear up some historical errors. Jesus is traditionally called a Nazarene but this has nothing to do with him being raised in Nazareth. The Nazarenes were a religious sect somewhat resembling the Essences. Joseph and Mary--Jesus' parents--were Nazarites and would have raised their children to be. Jesus had both brothers and sisters.
Nazarenes were expected to marry but marriage was not as we perceive it to be today. For Nazarenes it was a religious ritual and under absolute scrutiny and couples were obliged to follow the rules of matrimony. Indeed, there were two marriage ceremonies and not one as is customary in our times.
There is little doubt that the marriage ceremony that Mary and Joseph conformed to was according to the rules of dynastic wedlock that traces back to King David. After the first marriage husband and wife were to remain celibate except for the month of December with procreation in mind. It was only after the wife became pregnant that the second ceremony took place and the marriage was at last legalized.
The human side of Mary and Joseph's relationship has long ago been swept under the patriarchical rug but it appears historic that Joseph and Mary did not wait until the proper time and Mary became pregnant...early! And, although both Joseph and Mary would have been equally guilty of giving in to their passions, by law, Joseph was permitted to decline from the finalizing second marriage ceremony and, it seems, to abandon Mary altogether; to cast her aside.
Joseph, however, was concerned that Mary might be carrying his first born son
For the Nazarenes these nuptial rules were passed down into Jesus' times. After all, for a Nazarene marriage was an essential duty. This would have applied to Jesus as well.
The Roman Church, prejudice against women....and human sexual passions...were opposed to admitting Jesus' human side and buried his known relationship with Mary Magdalene. (How could the son of God be a sexual human being)? Thus, Mary Magdalene was turned into a common prostitute that Jesus simply and generously took into his vast cast of followers. What failed to be covered up is that it is said that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene more than any of his other disciples. In fact, many scholars are convinced that Mary was chosen to continued Jesus' teaching and not Peter.
How can we be sure that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?
In the time of Jesus there was a pre-marital ritual called, "preparing the bridegroom's table." This included the soon-to-be-bride to anoint her man's head and feet with an expensive ointment and afterwards dry his feet with her hair. This was not done by common women who could not afford the ointment but rather by priestess's who were permitted to use the sacred ointment.
It is said in the New Testament that Mary performed this ritual twice. Interestingly enough, the second time
" And the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth. The rest of his disciples were offended by this and expressed disapproval. They said onto him, Why do you love her more than all of us? The Savior answered and said to them. Why do I not love you like her? Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would not have existed. Now the existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on marriage."
But this seems so far fetched from what tradition has taught us. We'll address this next.
Jesus Son of Man
A first question is, did Jesus (really) exist at all or is he merely an extension of old Pagan myths?
I have pondered this question for well over twenty years.
I have concluded that yes there was a historical Jesus: There is so little proof of his crucifixion, however, that this remains baffling to most who studies such issues. That is, the Romans kept such accurate and intricate records and there is nothing that even indicates the execution of a man by the name of Jesus much less a significant Jesus. On the other hand, when Jesus held the Temple at bay, this act of sedition was no doubt enough to have him flogged or crucified as a trouble maker. The Jewish elite of the times certainly would have wanted to rid themselves of "his kind" in any case as while Jesus was a Jew he was a Jew who did not conform to the status quo of his times; in this view he really was a religious/politico subversive; a rebel with a cause. Indeed, he could have been crucified along with a group of other subversives, thieves and so forth without much notice by the Romans or the Jews outside of Jesus' own followers? We just can't know. We do have some historic proof of John the Baptists existence, however, and the story of
Jesus' baptism makes a great deal of historic and common sense. Both were Kingdom of God advocates and seditionists in their cause.
Baptism by John the Baptist, however, had nothing to do with faith or religiosity in the traditional sense. That is, it was a ritual of joining John's rebellion against Roman oppression and Jewish cooperation with the Romans. For John, Jesus and others who came to be "baptized," the first motivation was to demand that God's people were only to be ruled by God and none other. Jews who obeyed Roman rule, were not considered to be (real) Jews according to John the Baptist which eventually cost him his head and Jesus no doubt agreed.
Jesus, however, was more than a "protestor," he was a man of wisdom; a sage and teacher, He is said to have declared that he was "in this world" but "not of it." Which meant that he was not caught up in the false values of wealth and self-service. Indeed, he reached out to the poor and walked among the lowest denominator of his society wanting to reform the self-aggrandizing religious and political elite of his community. In this way, he apostatized and that was exceedingly dangerous to do in his times.
The major challenge in terms of the history of Jesus and knowing the truth of his life...and death is that it is so obvious that the Church of Rome created the gospels not only to represent Jesus but to attract the Pagans to adopt their dogmas and doctrines. One way we know this is from a letter of Bishop Clement of Alexander--sometime after 150 A.D. Indeed, in the below note he included an unknown section of Mark:
For even if they say something true. One who loves the truth
should not even so agree with them. For not all true things are
the Truth, nor should that truth which seems true according to
human opinions be preferred to the true truth...that according
to the faith.
To them one must never give way, not, when they put forward
their falsifications, should one concede the secret Gospel
is by Mark...but should deny it on oath. For not all true things
are to be said to all men.
In other words, the church was to decide what to tell and what not to. What the letter refers to is, for example, the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. What was covered up is that Lazarus called to Jesus before the tomb was opened. Thus, it becomes obvious that he was not dead. And, the details of the resurrection had simply ended with the women fleeing the empty sepulcher.
The historian Laurence Gardner also tells us that another major suppression was Mark's story of Mary Magdalene: The story from John 11:20-29 tells how Martha and Mary are together and upon hearing that Jesus was coming, Martha rushes out to greet him and then called for Mary who followed her out. Actually in part of a gospel never left out of the New Testament by Mark, Mary did leave the house with Martha but the disciples ordered her back inside , telling her to await the Master's instruction. Laurence says, "The fact is, as Jesus' wife, Mary was bound by a strict code of bridal practice. She was not permitted to leave the house and greet her husband until she had received his express consent to do so."
These details were exposed in 1958 when the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was discovered by the president of Ancient History at ColumbiaUniversity in the UnitedState
One major hint that the crucifixion actually happened is the "new" Christians were fast to deny Rome had anything to do with his sentencing and instead blamed the Jews. The reason for this is clear, Christianity was as political as it was a religion. (Recall the line, give Rome what is Rome's and to God what is God's).
It was not the death of Jesus that mattered to the New Church of "the savior" but the resurrection; the magic of it all which would be greatly appealing to the Pagan citizens of Rome.
In regard to this, there was apparently a big difference between the early Pauline Christians and Nazarene followers of Jesus. There may have been some later Nazarenes drift over to Christianity but there are no documents to support this.
All Christianity traces their roots back to Catholicism of course. One Protestant sect calls the Catholic bureaucracy "the Devil's church" but then basis its faith on Catholic literature such as the Gospels. As for me, I am absolutely convinced that Jesus and the "Father" were one...Just as you and I are.
References and Further Reading
Carmichael, Joel * The Birth of Christianity *Barnes & Noble
Gardner, Laurence * Bloodline of the Holy Grail *Barnes & Noble
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